Braising fish is a nice way to cook it without added fat. The fish can be whole, filleted, or cut into steaks. I’ve made this recipe with salmon, saba, and now yellow-fin tuna. For mild-flavored fish, make a broth seasoned with sake, mirin, and soy sauce. With strongly-flavored or oily fish, use stronger flavors such as miso, vinegar, salt, pickled plums, herbs, and spices. Elizabeth Andoh has a recipe for Ao-Zakana no Miso Ni which will be interesting to try.
Experiment with various greens as well. Spinach, rapini, mustard greens, chard, or dandelion greens are all tasty, but adjust the cooking time; mustard greens should be cooked longer than baby spinach.
Braised Fish in the Japanese Way
- 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, julienned
- vegetable oil for frying
- 10 ounces spinach
Heat 1/2″ oil in a skillet over medium heat until hot, and cook the julienned ginger until crisp and lightly golden. Drain on paper towels and reserve. In a medium pot of salted boiling water, parboil the spinach until barely done, 1 to 2 minutes. Drain and cool under cold running water. Squeeze gently to remove excess water.
- 4 yellow-fin steaks (about 6 ounces each)
- 2 slices peeled ginger
- 1 cup sake
- 3 Tablespoons mirin
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- 3 Tablespoons shoyu
Place the fish on a rack over the sink. Pour boiling water over the fish. Turn the fish carefully, and do the same on the other side. This process is called shimo furi, or frost falling, because the fish becomes whitish. The water removes any strong fishy taste and foreign matter, especially if the fish has skin. There will also be less foam as you begin to cook the fish. Wipe gently with a paper towel.
Arrange the fish in a large shallow pan without overlapping. Add the ginger slices.
In a small saucepan, bring the sake and mirin to a slow gentle boil. In a kettle, bring 2 cups of water to boiling. Add the sake mix to the fish. Add enough boiling water to barely cover the fish. Bring the pan to a boil over medium heat and skim off the foam until no more foam appears.
Reduce heat to medium low, and add the sugar. Cover with a drop-lid, and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the shoyu, cover again, and cook with a very gentle simmer for 15 to 20 minutes (don’t over cook the fish!). While the fish cooks, occasionally tilt the pan and spoon some of the liquid over the fish.
When the fish is cooked, add the spinach to the pan and let it absorb some of the cooking liquid.
Place the fish and spinach side by side in shallow bowls, and top with crisp ginger strips. Pour the remaining broth into each bowl.
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